How amusing. The party that was joined at the hips with the Tories all through the Referendum and told Scots to say ‘No Thanks’ is now to be the party that wants you to say YES. Yes for Scotland? Bit late for that.
Scottish Labour’s new leader, Jim Murphy and his cadre of campaign chums have realised, rather too late, that those traditional Labour voters (190,381 to be precise, well kind of), who voted Yes on 18 September 2014 are not returning to the fold as expected on 7 May 2015. How very dare they!
So Jim’s, or is it John’s, or maybe Blair’s response to this is to pretend that Scottish Labour was really Yes all along. It smacks that particular form of political cleverness that rises to an excruciating climax on a Friday night after a few libations. How anyone managed to remember it all by Monday morning and plough ahead defies logic. A wolf in sheep’s clothing? Hardly. It’s not as if Yes supporters are sheep.
In a similar vein, the hashtag #VoteSNPgetTories is doing the rounds in the Twittersphere as Labour play catch up in social media campaigning. Simple messages can be simple to destroy too. The FACT that Scotland voted Labour in 1970, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992 and 2010, yet still got a Tory government is not lost on us. Even the Tories are saying Vote SNP get Labour. How confusing to be told by the two leading contenders for Number 10 Downing Street that if you vote SNP in Scotland you are in effect handing the keys to No 10 to their principal opponent. It does help reinforce that in reality there is no difference between Tories and Labour. They worked together to hold Scotland back in the Referendum and now they are play-acting to the Scottish electorate.
I did particularly like the dramatic campaign gestures being press released recently. 50,000 doors to be knocked over the weekend. Well good luck with that one. I was chapping doors in the Raploch last Saturday and you were lucky to get 1 in 10 households answering before midday. Still it sounds purposeful. The sort of aspirational thing we used to put out many, many years ago when the SNP was tearing itself apart. Paper. Cracks. Temporary covering.
However, I’m not sure Labour are being aspirational enough. They may have segmented 190,000 former Labour voters who voted Yes but in Labour-held seats, they have over 550,000 in total majorities over the SNP candidate. Poll after poll currently suggests those very same majorities are being wiped out in an almighty landslide to the SNP. The Ashcroft-funded YouGov polls of 16 marginals not only saw the majorities of Douglas Alexander (16, 614), Margaret Curran (10,551), Tom Clarke (20,714) and others disappear but have anything from 3 to 34% SNP leads.
Now as the Tory peer has clearly said, ‘these polls are a snapshot, not a prediction’. There is a danger that SNP supporters get carried away in a hubris of their own making. Think back to 2012 Council elections when everyone was predicting the one-party citadels of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire Councils would be swept away only for Scottish Labour to increase its grip on Council administrations. Better still, remember the 10-15% Labour lead in the Scottish Parliament elections as much as 9 weeks before their wipe-out?
A timely report by Prof John Curtice for the Electoral Reform Society reiterates that the vagaries of the first-part-the-post voting system coupled with minor changes in party preferences, can have significant impact on the results. So, yes, the SNP could obliterate Labour if the 25% swing being recorded in opinion polls at the moment is repeated on 7 May. Equally, should the swing fall to 12%, then the SNP only really stand to gain a handful of seats.
Interestingly, one of the keys to stopping a future Tory majority is if the Lib Dems hold their seats (38) where the Tory is the main challenger. I doubt we will hear Jim Murphy saying much about that though.
Likewise, unless Labour has a 7 point lead over the Tories throughout the UK, it will never achieve an overall majority. Recent polling shows a narrowing to the extent neither Labour or the Tories have a significant lead over each other.
The message is simple. Nothing comes to those who do nothing. Work hard for every vote. No Labour seat is really safe.